Weather hampers rescue after Colombia plane crash

BOGOTA, Colombia: Rescue teams are fighting adverse weather conditions Tuesday to establish whether there are any more survivors of a tragic plane crash near Medellin.

Really the possibilities of surviving are difficult, we have been working for more than two and a half hours at the scene, and many more experts continue to search amongst the debris, possibly there are other survivors, Itagui Fire Chief, Captain Misael Cadavid, told reporters at the scene.

The flight from Santa Cruz to Medellin had 81 people aboard, including nine crew members and 72 passengers, and crashed into the side of a hill close to the town of La Union just 59 km (36 miles) from Medellin and only 17 km (10 miles) from the Jose Maria Cordova International Airport where it was due to land. So far, there have been 75 reported fatalities and six survivors.

In the midst of this tragedy there is good news to share and that is that there are survivors, said fire captain Kaleth Gutierrez. Access to the crash site is very difficult due to complications with the terrain.

The State Department said the U.S. was "deeply saddened" by the crash and was in communication with Colombian authorities to provide assistance as requested.

The aircraft was carrying 22 members of the Brazilian football team, Chapecoense, and reportedly contacted the control tower at the Medellin airport to report technical failures before it disappeared from radar at around 10 p.m. Monday, (0300GMT) Tuesday.

There is speculation that the aircraft may have crashed due to a lack of fuel as there are no signs of an explosion at the crash site. Air traffic control charts show the airplane was put into a holding position before disappearing from the radar. The reason for the holding pattern is unknown.

The Chapecoense football club was due to arrive in Medellin to prepare for the first leg of the final of the Copa Sudamericana tournament against Atletico Medellin. The return game was due to have been played in Brazil on Dec. 6.

The South American football confederation, CONMEBOL, has suspended the tournament while Brazilian authorities have called for three days of national mourning.

Source: Anadolu Agency